Could Avaaz Help Us Stop the U.S. Bombing of Syria?
We are within reach of doing something unprecedented: stopping a U.S. war before it starts by means of a Congressional vote. We have public opinion our side including a majority of Democrats, a majority of Republicans, and a majority of Independents. We have MoveOn, CREDO, VoteVets, and Win Without War, among many other groups, active on the left; meanwhile the Campaign for Liberty and Heritage Action are active on the right. ABC's whip count has 217 Members of the House as "oppose" or "likely to oppose."
Calls into Congressional offices and participation at town meetings are overwhelmingly against the plan to attack Syria. Texas Republican Rep. John Culberson said 96% of his calls were opposed. MoveOn, CREDO, and Win Without War are organizing local actions around the country on Monday, September 9, at 7pm local time.
But we also face one of the most powerful political forces in America. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which Administration officials told the New York Times was the "the 800-pound gorilla in the room" that was going to ensure Congressional support for the war, is openly lobbying Congress in favor of the war. The head of the Congressional Black Caucus, Marcia Fudge, considered to be very close to AIPAC, is telling members of the CBC to shut up about Syria.
In short, given the political Goliath confronting us, we can't have too much organizational strength on our side.
Wouldn't it be great if Avaaz - "The world's largest and most effective online campaigning community for change" - would be on our side?
I think it would be great, and there's something simple that each of us could do to help bring it about.
The actor and director Danny Glover, working with the Win Without War coalition, has set up apetition against the U.S. bombing of Syria at the Avaaz petition site. The petition - which is the same statement that the Win Without War coalition is sending to Congress - reads:
The Win Without War coalition is strongly opposed to American military intervention in Syria and urges Congress to reject any proposed authorization for the use of military force. The use of chemical weapons is abhorrent. However, we urge our leaders to pursue a response to the apparent use of these weapons in Syria that rejects the false choice between bombing and impunity. We agree with US military leaders who assert that only a political solution will end the suffering of the Syrian people and urge all parties to pursue such a settlement.
The more people sign and share this petition, the more Avaaz members will see it. Eventually, if enough Avaaz members sign the petition, Avaaz will adopt the campaign to stop the U.S. bombing of Syria.
The goals here are three:
1. to organize Avaaz members to bring Avaaz on board in opposition to the U.S. bombing of Syria; specifically, to get Avaaz to campaign for a no vote in Congress on the U.S. plan to bomb Syria.
2. to publicize the Win Without War statement.
3. to create a channel by which people around the world can help peace advocates in the United States raise the profile of our opposition to the war (anyone in the world can sign an Avaaz petition - you don't have to be in the U.S.)
We need something big to counter the 800 pound gorilla. And all you have to do to help us bring Avaaz on board is sign and share the petition.
Robert Naiman is Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy.